Crank, p.11
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       Crank, p.11

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
 
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  We moved to Sparks. I had to transfer.

  Solid explanation. Still,

  “Why didn’t you call?”

  I did. You were grounded. Remember?

  That excuse was shakier.

  “Not for the last two weeks.”

  I wanted to give you some space.

  Pregnant pause, giving

  himself some space.

  Kristina, I know I’m not exactly your type.

  I looked him in the eye.

  “I don’t think I have a ‘type.’”

  I thought it might be the lifeguard type.

  Reno wasn’t the “biggest

  little city.” It was a

  small-town gossip mill.

  Not that we have an exclusive thing, I know.

  My cheeks burned. “No, we

  don’t. But I really like you.”

  I needed to hear that. I like you, too. A lot

  “I went out with Brendan

  because I was flattered.”

  I dared to confess, “I never

  had a boyfriend until

  last summer.”

  That’s hard to believe, Kristina.

  Taking that totally wrong,

  I huffed, “Why?

  Because I’m such a slut?”

  No. Because you’re so beautiful.

  Tell me about last summer.

  By the time I finished, I still

  loved Adam. But I was falling for Chase.

  So Why

  was I so hot to return

  the phone message, waiting

  for me to come home?

  Brendan:

  Give me a call. I want

  to see you again. This time

  I’ll bring the refreshments.

  “Refreshments?”

  I’d perched on my

  pedestal for a whole week.

  How fast could I make it down?

  As I Considered My Answer

  I noticed Adam’s letter, sitting on the counter.

  Dear Kristina,

  How’s school? I hope I can make it through this year.

  It’s really tough, what with worrying about Mom,

  Ralph (can you believe she’d like a guy named Ralph?),

  and Lince. She’s talking better now, and can get

  herself to the bathroom. I guess that’s good.

  I saw your dad the other day. It was kind of strange

  because he never even mentioned you. Of course, he

  was with a new woman. (Not bad, considering she’s

  with your dad. Ha, ha.) Maybe he doesn’t want her

  to think he’s old enough to have a daughter your age.

  Are you going out with anyone special? Half of me

  hopes so. The other half wants you to always be

  mine. There’s a pretty cute girl at school, Giselle, giving

  me the eye. She looks a little like you, in fact.

  I think I might ask her out.

  Maybe you didn’t want to hear that But you’re my

  very best friend, the only one in the whole world

  I could tell that to. I want to hear everything

  about you, too. Kind of weird, huh?

  So do you have a boyfriend? Is he a jock or what?

  (Wink, wink.) How safe are these letters, anyway?

  Does your mom read them? I wonder if Giselle

  parties. Doesn’t everyone? Okay, maybe not.

  Write soon. Love, Adam

  Giselle?

  He liked some girl named Giselle?

  Did she speak French (or just give it)?

  Maybe I didn’t want to hear that?

  Why did I read his letter anyway?

  And what was up with Dad?

  Why hadn’t he called?

  Was he a Daddy Judas?

  Had he sold me out?

  Should I call Brendan?

  Set myself up?

  Would I truly let him be first?

  Was I ready to lose the big v?

  Should I call Chase instead?

  Ask him to score for me?

  Would he do it if I asked?

  Walk a slender wire for me?

  Did I want to risk honor-roll status?

  Chance further alienating my mom?

  Had I lost my mind completely?

  Did I really want to get high?

  You Bet I Did

  The monster

  shouted, Where have you been, my

  sweet Bree? Hurry back to me.

  My blood pressure bloomed, my head

  pounded.

  Need rose up, pumping violently

  through my veins. All I could

  think of, as I reached for the phone

  on my

  nightstand, were fat ivory lines,

  waiting to whisk me to a

  netherworld, far beyond my

  door.

  Chase was “busy” Friday night. So I

  did a really intelligent thing.

  Called Brendan for a date and

  asked

  him to make a buy. “Can you get me an

  eight ball?” I figured an eighth

  of an ounce would last awhile. It cost

  me

  $250, which I was saving to buy my

  first car. But hey, I probably

  wouldn’t have my license

  for

  years. Illicit fun settled upon, I put on

  my most innocent face and went

  to gift my family with half-hearted

  company.

  I Could Hardly Wait for Friday

  Though the voice of my virginity nagged,

  the lure of the monster was stronger.

  Besides, I could always say “no.”

  Couldn’t I?

  Pretending to be the perfect gentleman,

  Brendan arrived at my door,

  introduced himself politely.

  We told my mom and Scott we were

  going to dinner and a drive-in double feature.

  But food and movies were the last

  things on our minds.

  Not that we necessarily had the same

  things on our minds. As we drove up the

  mountain, his hand crept up my leg.

  I let it do exactly that as I watched for a safe

  spot to pull over. We drove back off the highway,

  deep into a grove of fresh-scented evergreens.

  Carried a blanket back into the trees.

  He pulled out a bindle, which looked a bit short,

  and a six-pack of beer. For the next twenty minutes,

  we snorted and drank, climbing to a very tall buzz.

  We talked and joked and giggled.

  And it all seemed just like it should.

  Until it didn’t anymore.

  It Started with a Kiss

  Crank-revved, pistons firing full bore,

  passion firecrackered in tiny bursts

  from thigh to belly button.

  Oh, baby,

  I want you so bad

  “B-b-bad to the bone?” We laughed,

  but it wasn’t a joke. Not for long.

  My shirt tore open. “Wait.”

  I’ve waited for weeks.

  Put up and shut up.

  Kisses segued to bites. Bruises.

  Pain rippled through my body.

  “Brendan, please stop.”

  No. You promised,

  you damn little tease.

  Off came my shorts. Down went

  his zipper. I realized I was in

  serious trouble. “I’ll scream.”

  Go ahead. No one can hear

  but skunks and coyotes.

  Still, as I opened my mouth, his

  hand slapped down over it. Those

  muscles hardened.

  Just relax.

  You’ll love it.

  My brand-new Victoria’s Secrets

  shredded, and I felt the worst of

  Brendan
pause, savoring my terror.

  They all love it.

  Had he done it a different way, I

  might have responded with excitement.

  Instead, I froze as he pushed inside.

  There it is.

  Oh God. There it goes.

  It went, all right, with an audible

  tear. Pain mushroomed into agony

  and all I could do was go stiff.

  You weren’t lying,

  you bitch!

  I laid there, sobbing, as he worked

  and sweated over me. Stoked by the

  monster, it took him a long time to finish.

  Give me a line,

  I’ll give you an encore.

  He pulled away, sticky and bloody.

  Throbbing inside and out, I didn’t move,

  didn’t dare look him in the eye.

  What the hell

  is the matter, Bree?

  I stared up at the clouds, gathering

  into gloom, shrouding the moon.

  “My name is Kristina.”

  But It Was Bree

  Not a Blink of Remorse

  Brendan didn’t say a word

  most of the way home. He

  drove slowly, just under the

  limit. I watched him, out

  of the corner of my eye.

  He didn’t look so perfect

  anymore. His nose had a

  bump and his eyebrows

  almost joined. And, of course,

  I knew what he was made of.

  Finally, he found a few words—

  his thank you for the gift he had

  stolen, the one I should have given

  and never could again. I will

  remember them forever:

  If I’d have known

  you’d just lay there,

  I wouldn’t have bothered.

  Have You Ever

  had so much to say

  that your mouth closed up tight,

  struggling to harness the nuclear force

  coalescing within your words?

  Have you ever

  had so many thoughts

  churning inside that you didn’t

  dare let them escape,

  in case they blew you wide open?

  Have you ever

  been so angry that you

  couldn’t look in the mirror

  for fear of finding the face of evil

  glaring back at you?

  I stared at Brendan,

  trying to find some words—

  any words—to express

  the terror of those minutes,

  the horror of his violation,

  the humiliation at his benediction.

  But my mouth closed up tight

  around the nuclear force

  building inside,

  thought after thought churning,

  the evil in my core threatening

  to eviscerate me.

  Would you think it a mercy killing?

  Brendan Pulled Up

  at the foot of my driveway,

  didn’t so much as glance my way

  until I opened the door

  and creaked to the curb.

  Then he turned and tossed the

  dwindled bindleat my feet.

  You owe me $250.

  Would you believe

  I paid up?

  I Stumbled up the Driveway

  wanting desperately to shed

  the lingering traces of eau de Brendan.

  Even messed up, I realized

  I couldn’t very well go inside and straight

  into the shower.

  Someone might wonder.

  So I aimed for the hot tub, threw back

  the cover, almost gagged on eau de chlorine.

  But I didn’t care.

  Steamy water bubbled around me, over me,

  jetted inside me.

  The monster laughed out loud.

  Cleansed, chlorinated to the point of chemical

  peel, sore muscles relieved,

  I felt almost human again.

  Tiptoe to my room, up a darkened hall,

  past closed doors,

  I wondered if I’d ever feel completely human again.

  Exhausted

  but too buzzed to sleep,

  I pulled out some stationary:

  Dearest Adam,

  Always great to hear from you.

  You’re a regular well of information.

  Why isn’t any of it ever good?

  If you happen to see my dad again,

  tell him not to bother keeping in touch.

  He’s a shit and I hope his new girlfriend

  gives him herpes. Or worse.

  How’s it going with Giselle?

  (Were her parents on something

  when they named her?) I’m sure she

  gets high if you’re attracted to her.

  Have you two done the dirty yet?

  As for me, I’ve got two boyfriends.

  One is too busy to keep me out

  of trouble. The other just raped me.

  I think it was rape, anyway.

  Can you define the word for me?

  Oops. I think I’m sounding bitter.

  Better close now. I need to cry.

  (Maybe you didn’t want to hear that.)

  Love you, too, K … Bree

  It Was Mean

  So mean, it made me feel

  better

  but not quite good

  enough

  I could only think of one

  way

  to make things all

  better

  okay, so maybe it wasn’t

  truly

  the best way to climb

  above

  my mounting state of

  depression

  but it definitely did

  the trick

  in fact, I had to laugh, it

  was

  so simple. I

  just

  had to open the bindle

  calling

  me on behalf of

  the monster

  Close to Empty

  We had tooted a lot,

  but not an eight ball.

  I began to suspect

  Brendan had pilfered a bit.

  Brendan a thief?

  Almost unbelievable!

  Conservation was the key

  to seeing me through until

  morning when I cuold

  give Chase a call

  Conservation, in fact,

  might be the solution.

  The solution to staying high

  and still maintaining my way

  through class work, homework,

  and family dinners.

  I knew I couldn’t

  manage it straight.

  Couldn’t manage not to sink

  into a swamp of self-pity,

  quicksand

  for a fractured psyche.

  Kristina crumbled.

  I called for Bree.

  Brain Waves

  ping-ponging inside

  my skull, no hope

  of sleep or easy

  egress

  to a plane where memory

  could not intrude, I bent my

  head, submitting to

  shame.

  Why had I gone? What

  had I done? Who would

  want me now? How could I

  deny

  the state of my being or my

  part in its disintegration? No

  way to elude the bitter bite of

  blame

  I tried to lay the night’s

  events on anyone but myself.

  Couldn’t. I had tried to

  play

  Brendan, and he had turned

  the tables. He was a grand

  master player. I was new to

  the game.

  The Game Replayed

  over and over

  all night lon
g,

  like a cable TV horror flick.

  I laid in bed, memorizing

  every scene,

  every line,

  every plot twist.

  Finally sunshine

  trickled through

  the blinds.

  Dust danced in its beams.

  The house filled with the everyday.

  Footsteps.

  Voices.

  Coffee. Perfume.

  Nothing new.

  Nothing unusual.

  Nothing, except me.

  I whiffed a line of willpower.

  Got up, got dressed in

  ratty clothes.

  Hair unbrushed,

  ditto teeth,

  I went into

  the kitchen, poured

  hot black brew

  and lied about my date.

  Answer Before They Ask

  Great strategy. Mom didn’t even snarl

  when I said I was too tired to go

  to Jake’s soccer game.

  Once I saw her tailpipe, I called Chase.

  Thirty minutes later, he chugged up

  the driveway. One look, he knew.

  What’s the matter, Kristina?

  “Too much fun last night. Come inside.”

  My mom might have accepted the lie.

  Chase knew better.

  You’re buzzed. But there’s more.

  So much for deceit, for accepting blame.

  So much for never telling a soul.

  I broke down like rotting rafters.

  Tell me what happened.

  I told him everything, start to finish,

  in minute detail. He gathered me up,

  glued me back together.

  That bastard. I’ll kill him.

  I shook my head, tossing tears and thin

  streams of snot. “It was all my fault.”

  Chase grabbed my shoulders.

  No! Brendan knew what he was doing.

  He pulled me so close it hurt, laid

  his head against my heaving chest.

  Then hard-ass Chase Wagner cried.

  Oh, God, I’m sorry, Kristina.

  I should have been there for you.

  Stunned

  I kissed his forehead,

  licked away his tears.

 
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